Middleman involved in Dewani killing

2012-10-03 14:05
Ami Denborg, sister of Anni Dewani, poses with a photo of the murdered woman. (Arne Lundström, Die Burger)

Ami Denborg, sister of Anni Dewani, poses with a photo of the murdered woman. (Arne Lundström, Die Burger)

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Cape Town - The killing of honeymooner Anni Dewani was orchestrated by a middleman, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

A witness on the stand confessed that he had been the middleman, by putting shuttle driver Zola Tongo in contact with a man who knew more about the underworld.

Tongo had phoned the witness on 12 November 2010 asking if knew of a hitman.

He said he did not but could give him the number of Abongile, a former co-worker who had previously told him he could "assist" if anyone was after him.

Tongo met the witness in his silver VW Sharan soon after, where he explained that a foreign man had asked him to help find a hitman.

"Along the way, I asked him why he was looking for a hitman... He mentioned to me that there is a lady who needs to be killed. But he's not sure because there's two ladies and he's not sure which one to kill," the witness said.

"He said this gentleman was not from here and he had done this before... pretend as if this person was going to be hijacked when actually the person was killed."

The "gentleman's" name was Shrien Dewani.

The witness was a hotel worker, who knew Tongo because the hotel often outsourced airport trips or tours to Tongo's shuttle company.

Doesn't trust me

He told the court that while he was in Tongo's vehicle, the shuttle driver got a call from the gentleman.

He could not hear what the man was saying but heard Tongo say "I'm on my way". Tongo then put the phone down and told the witness "Eish, this guy does not trust me".

The court heard that Abongile and Tongo had arranged to meet.

They used the witness as a go-between, to pass on messages.

"I received a call from Zola, saying that I must inform Abongile that the couple is leaving the restaurant," he said.

He apparently then told the two not to contact him anymore as it was late in the evening and he had to finish his shift.

He said that he went to bed and phoned Tonga the next morning to find out what had happened but his phone was off.

He then spoke with Abongile on the phone, who said he must not ask too many questions and "what needed to be done, is done".

Abongile was also looking for Tonga because he was supposed to have been paid R15 000 for the job but was only paid R10 000.

The name and identity of the witness was withheld after an order by Judge Robert Henney, for fear of harm or intimidation.

Fake hijacking

Anni Dewani was shot in an apparent car hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien in Cape Town in November 2010.

According to media reports at the time, former national police commissioner Bheki Cele had said the police were probing a link between Dewani's murder and the 2007 killing of an Eastern Cape doctor.

Pox Raghavjee was found shot dead in his car in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape, but nothing was stolen from him.

Earlier, it was reported that his widow Heather Raghavjee, who travelled to Cape Town to comfort Shrien after the murder of his wife, said allegations of a link between the two killings were baseless.

Tongo, in a plea bargain confession, similarly alleged that Dewani had previously arranged for someone to be killed in a fake hijacking in South Africa.

He was handed an effective 18-year sentence for his role in the plot.

Earlier on Wednesday, Xolile Mngeni pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, robbing and killing Dewani, as well as illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He refused to make any formal admissions, meaning the State would have to prove each fact in its case.

Read more on:    zola tongo  |  anni dewani  |  xolile mngeni  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  honeymoon hijacking

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